Denktash: Greek Cypriots could claim homes

The recent thaw between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot governments is gaining momentum with an initiative to allow dispossessed Greeks recourse to Turkish courts for redress

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    Cyprus has been divided for
    the past thirty years

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said Sunday plans were being made for displaced Greek Cypriots to be able to use northern courts to claim back houses and goods they lost in the 1974 Turkish invasion.

     

    The announcement comes after the leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic lifted some of the Turkish-imposed restrictions that hamper movement on the divided island.

     

    Last month’s opening of the Green Line to two-way civilian traffic sparked unprecedented movement by Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Thousands visited villages on the other side of the dividing line that some had not seen for decades.

     

    "Now that there is free passage between the sides, they can also come to our courts," Denktash said in Turkey in remarks carried by the official Anatolia news agency.

     

    He underlined preparations were underway to allow displaced Greek Cypriots to bring cases before the courts "notably on the question of goods."

     

    "We believe that things will be more just this way," said Denktash, who was attending a conference on the Cyprus question.

     

    Erdogan caused outrage

    on his recent trip to Cyprus

    Greek Cypriots, whose government is internationally-recognised, have expressed suspicions that Denktash's decision to lift movement restrictions was aimed at easing frustration among Turkish Cypriots who blamed him for the collapse of a UN peace plan in March.

     

    Cyprus is set to join the European Union in May 2004, but the failure of the UN plan means only the Greek south will reap the benefits of EU membership.

     

    Turkish troops seized northern Cyprus in response to an Athens-engineered Greek Cypriot coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece in 1974. 

     

    The move comes one day after the visit to the Turkish north by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which he called for two separate states -- one Turkish and
    another Greek -- to become a reality. 


    Greek Cypriot government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides hit back at Erdogan, saying he came to Cyprus "like a conqueror and asked for recognition of realities imposed through the 1974 Turkish invasion, and which have been maintained since through the force of arms." 


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